Friday, August 28, 2009

Taking Woodstock

Lots of Interesting Background, but Very Little Music

No, I was not at Woodstock, but I was very much a part of the Woodstock generation.
As a journalist I've written of the various Woodstock reincarnations- all doomed to failure, because Woodstock was a once in a milennium event.
"Taking Woodstock" takes stock of everything but the music itself, which is a major omission but necessary, due to copyright laws.
Director Ang Lee ("Brokeback Mountain) focuses on the character of Eliot Tiber, who wrote the memoir on which James Schamus' screenplay is based.
Eliot is a good Jewish boy in New York City, trying to make it as an interior designer.
His success has been spotty, and he has returned to help out his parents and their crummy old El Monaco motel in the Catskills.
The motel is on the verge of bneing foreclosed, and mom's (Imelda Staunton) belligerent attitude is no help. Dad (Henry Goodman) is a classic henpecked husband, just waiting for peace in the next life.
When Eliot learns a permit for a music festival in a neighboring town has been denied, he gets the brilliant idea to use an existing permit he had for a modest recorded music-listening festival to enable the high-powered Woodstock Ventures to go forward with "Three days of peace, love and music."
The mastermind of Woodstock Ventures is Michael Lang (Jonathan Groff) a beatific curly-haired promoter who never has heard a discouraging word.
As the grounds at El Monaco are inadequate, Lang and company stike up a deal with neighboring dairyman Max Yasgur (Eugene Levy), a genial armchair liberal who see no problem with allowing untold thousands of hippies to camp out on his pastures.
The rest is history. More than half a million young people showed up, Woodstock was declared a disaster, and everyone had the time of their lives.
"Taking Woodstock" is more about the inevitable coming-out of Eliot Tiber, with a little help from transvestite Vilma, in a hilarious performance by Liev Schreiber.
Emile Hirsch puts in good screen time as a shell-shocked Vietnam vet, Billy, but if you want to experience Woodstock music, rent the concert video, with new director cut.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

computer tyranny

Kids in Distress Get a Boost from the Dubliner

Jan McArt Provides Moral Support

Last night I attended a benefit for Kids in Distress at The Dubliner in Mizner Park, Boca Raton.
I know what a lame duck candidate feels like now. People were tsk-tsking and tut-tuting or my job loss. I spent most of my time with Jan McArt, who was "The First Lady of Theatre" during the glory days of Boca Raton News.
Jan's Royal Palm Dinner Theatre went out of business, but she reinvented herself as an academic at Lynn University. She encouraged me to do likewise.
Gosh, I wish I could do that. But when I got up this morning, my computer, sensing I had an important task, refused to boot up.
I called my techie friend Bill Curtis, who had lent me the machine when mine fried.
"Hard drive," he said grimly. "Just keep trying to restart it."
Oh brother. So I asked my ex-wife if I could use her computer so I could start working on some freelance with a Friday deadline.
Her machine is better than mine, but different in mysterious ways. Everything seemed OK as I created a doc in Microsoft Word. Then I discovered my machine had decided to come to life- jealous, probably. So I asked ex Lynda to e-mail me the document I had just created.
The e-mail came through, but the text came out gibberish.
I'll have to ask our college-age boarder for tech assistance. Brian has been playing with computers since age 8, and for him that's what it is: play.
For me computers have always meant work and the accompanying problems. I need an attitude adjustment. Any suggestions?

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


A Friend Reaches Out at McGee's Lawnmower Repair

On the fifth day of my unemployment adventure, fear rises its ugly head. The fear rises highest in the early morning hours, just before the dawn. That's when things seem bleakest.
After strange dreams I rise, check e-mail. Some reassuring messages lift the gloom. Breakfast makes one feel better.
I'd mow the lawn but the mower is out of commission. I visit Gianni at McGee's lawn mower repair.
"I heard," he says. "That's too bad. Things are really tough here too."
I tell Gianni I think my fuel filter is clogged.
"More like the diaphragm," he says. "Bring it on in."
"I have no money," I protest.
"Don't worry about it," he says.
That's how friends take care of one another. I am just one of millions who are learning who their real friends are. I'll see more people this evening at a charity event I would have been covering for the paper. I told them of my situation and they said come anyway.
No doubt my spirits will rise, and I'll feel almost normal.
Then it's bed time and the cycle repeats itself. At least I recognize the pattern.

Oh yes, Gianni fixed the lawn mower and charged a nominal minimum for parts.
"Don't tell anyone I did this," he cautioned.
Now that's a friend.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Boca Raton News Folds; a New Career Begins

Crosby, Still and Nash at Seminole Hard Rock, Then the Fall

Hello everyone,

This is the first- no, make that the fourth day of the rest of my life. On Friday, Aug. 21 the doors of Boca Raton News were closed, presumably forever. It was the end of a 40-year career for me.

They say an online version will continue, but until something involving me is confirmed, I reckon a blog is better than nothing. I have been writing something every single day for more than 30 years, so it's hard to get out of the habit.

I'm going to continue to write reviews and reports on things I've done in the course of covering arts, entertainment and society. Once I get the hang of this I'll try to add photos.

The night before Boca News died, I got a surprise invitation to see Crosby, Stills & Nash at Seminole Hard Rock. In view of what went down later, I'm really glad I went. The lads were surprisingly good, and their backup band was terrific.
Particularly surprising to me was David Crosby, who was hands-down the funniest of the three, and has a surprisingly clear, high tenor that makes him still sound like a teenager.
Tom Craig shot a couple photos I'll try to post.
If any of you out in blog land read this and care to comment, I invite you.

After all is said and done,